Judges Applaud Domestic Violence Courts

Daily Gazette, June 5, 2002

by Shirin Parsavand

ALBANY – Judges who oversee domestic violence courts praised the experimental program during a panel discussion Tuesday.

The experiment to handle cases involving domestic violence in a single court, which is now happening in Bronx, Rensselaer and Westchester counties, soon will expand to three more counties.

But more should be done to consolidate the entire court system, said Jonathan Lippman, chief administrative judge for New York State.

“We have the best chance we’ve ever had to get a constitutional amendment to restructure the court,” Lippman said during a panel discussion Tuesday at the New York State Bar Association.

The constitutional amendment would require passage by both houses of the Legislature in successive sessions.  Then, voters would have to approve it in a statewide referendum.

The panel discussion was sponsored by the Bar Association and the Committee for Modern Courts, an organization lobbying for court reform.

A proposal by Chief Judge Judith Kaye would consolidate the nine trial-level courts into two trial courts – Supreme Court and District Court.

In domestic violence cases, the state Supreme Court would handle orders of protection, custody, child support and related charges.

In Westchester County, handling the cases in one court means that more information is shared by the judge, prosecutor and attorneys, resulting in better advocacy by lawyers and more informed decisions, Judge Daniel Angiolillo said.

He cited one case in which a request that a father be given visitation rights was withdrawn after a report indicated he was not complying with an alcohol treatment program.

George Ceresia, Jr., the domestic violence court judge in Rensselaer County, said the system provides for consistent rulings and helps the court monitor defendants more closely.

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